Let’s assume you’ve established an official Facebook page for your company. You and your marketing interns have been working hard to grow its fan base and engage your customers. Your team has posted news about your products, social responsibility events, seminars, as well as a homemade staff video recorded on someone’s new Flip video camera.
If you’re like many midsized companies who have jumped into social media, you’re eagerly experimenting with this budding technology. But have you considered where social media fits into your larger business and public relations strategy? Furthermore, how will you manage the inherent risks which come with this technology?
The month, the Public Relations Society of America (www.prsa.org) released official guidance for their members about how companies may create a “social media policy.” A social media policy is a set of written guidelines that a company develops to provide the terms of correct usage of social media websites and tools. These guidelines are intended for both employees and customers. A company’s social media policy should be made public and easily accessible via its website.
Adopting a social media policy is important for several reasons:
- It outlines a company’s strategic goals and lays out a specific plan to tie social media activities directly to those goals.
- It helps prevent misuse of social media.
- It clarifies employee responsibilities with regard to social media use and provides the rules of conduct.
- It ensures a company adheres to a clearly defined code of ethics.
- It sets forth a plan for preventing and managing conflicts, should such instances arise.
- It provides other important protections for a company.
To create a social media policy, your company should consult with a trained public relations professional to guide the process. An attorney experienced in Internet matters should be consulted before, during and after the process and also should conduct a legal review of the completed guidelines before the document is posted to the company website.
The guidelines should be designed to evolve and be amended over time as technology and social media usage changes.
Your company may also create branding identity guidelines at this time. Brand consistency is the process of implementing a brand’s visual identity and tone of voice across all customer touch points. A unique identity is important because it enables a company to be easily recognized, distinguished from other brands and trusted to deliver on its mission. This is true whether delivering communications via traditional or new forms of media, which is why we strongly recommend establishing brand guidelines simultaneously with the social media policy.
To arrange a free consultation about how you can create a social media policy for your organization, contact me at Robert@NortheastPR.com.